Race Spotlight: Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon

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This weekend I had the pleasure of helping promote one of my FAVORITE half marathon’s in the DC area. Drumroll please…

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You may recall my race recap from this race in 2013. Max and I stumbled upon it after the Marine Corps 10k as Max was bitten by the half-marathon bug. This was his first half and he absolutely kicked butt! For me, it was my worst half-marathon time to date and I got double calf cramps at mile 9…but it is still one of my favorite races! That says a lot about the race and I’ll explain why:

  1. Microbrews. Runners know that most races hand runners Michelob Ultra at the end of a race, but the WWBHM let’s you pick a a delicious microbrew.
  2. The course. This race starts at Mount Vernon Estates, runs down GW Parkway, into Old Town Alexandria, and over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge into National Harbor. The views are breathtaking!
  3. The size. The half is capped at 5,000 runners so it’s not too big and not too small.
  4. Support. I’m a middle of the pack runner. On this run I was a back of the pack runner. Calf cramps and poor hydration on my end pushed me to the back and I was happy to see that I had course support (water, cheering groups, etc) the entire 13.1. Thankfully that was very different than Heather Gannoe’s experience in the back to the pack.
  5. New 6k. New to running? Not up to the half marathon distance? No problem! Try the 6k option and join the party at the finish line!

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We will be back this year!

So this weekend I joined the official mascot of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon at the Purple Strides 5k in DC. Now Woody is pretty heavy…but don’t let that fool you…because he is fast! The crowd loved taking pictures with him, racing him on the course (he runs a 28 minute 5k!), and competing. Woody’s a pretty big mascot so he needs a little big of help to get around — so was more than happy to play Secret Service for the morning. Here are a few of the highlights:

DSCN0233 Even U.S. presidents have to pay for parking.  Tickets are no joke!

DSCN0260 Playing around on the Foosball, ping pong, and basketball games set up.

DSCN0273 Helping some new friends stretch so they’re ready to run the 5k.

DSCN0255 Snapping a TON of photos with the 4,000 people running/walking the 5k.

IMG_3168 Hitting the 5k course strong on a beautiful sunny day.

IMG_3299 Recovering with a banana and water post-race.

IMG_3345 Challenging a new friend to a push-up contest.

Want to learn more about the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and 6k? Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter for more information and dive in! 

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Seven for Saturday

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What a week! I missed Five for Friday this week, so I thought I would join in on Seven for Saturday instead. Here we go!

1) Vega

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As a #SweatPink Ambassador I had the opportunity to review Vega Sport as part of the #FueldYourBetter campaign. I was originally introduced to Vega through their Vega One wellness line and was happy to see them dive deeper into a sport-specific line. The Vega Team sent me a box of sugar-free (super important!) pre-workout energizer packets in the lemon-lime flavor. The energizer is taken 20-minutes before a workout and enhances mental focus, increases energy, and boosts your endurance. At least 4 times a week I bike to and from work, and run when I get home. I find that after a long work day I am exhausted by the time I ride the 4 miles home and it is difficult to get my butt back out the door for a run. This week has been a little different! After being sick on Sunday and Monday I got back in gear on Tuesday and started using Vega Sport before I got on my bike. By the time I got on my run I felt stronger and was able to run my hill intervals at a more consistent pace than a usual work-day-drag. My super picky (but lovely) husband has even take packets to his office to use for his runs. A co-worker saw me mixing my packet and cringed at the green (and I mean GREEN) color of Vega and I let him try an ice-cold mix. He cringed a little more when I read off the plant-based ingredients, and he grew a little skeptical, and held the cup with caution. He was happy to find out that it in fact did not “taste green” but tastes a lot like a glass of iced tea! Vega Sport products come in three phases: prepare, sustain, and recover. I’ve only tried their prepare stage — so I cannot account for their other phases — but I am very impressed with it so far!

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2) Mother’s Day
This year we are spending mothers day with my mom by having brunch with my mom, cousin, sister, and her fiance. My mom loves the Elizabeth Arden perfume line, so we got her one of their spingy scents as a mothers day gift. Mama B is in the midwest so we mailed her a care package with a set of Bell & Jack preppy beachy earrings and a Super Bowl 43 shirt (Go Hawks!). Now go hug your mothers everyone!

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3) EnergyBits
As I mentioned above, I was out sick for a few days. I fit in a short run on one of those days (not advised) and sat out the second day. Whether it was food poisoning or a stomach bug I will never know…but I sure am happy it’s gone. On day 2 I received a great little package from ENERGYbits with a tin of their bits to try. Ever heard of them? They are tiny tablets of organically grown NON GMO spirulina algae and chlorella that eliminate fatigue and hunger instantly in just 1 calorie tabs. I took one as soon as I got the package with the hopes that it would help bring me back into the world of the living as far as my stomach problems went. The smell is a little hard to handle, but once you swallow the pill there’s barely any taste. It kind of reminded me of feeding my fish as a kid! I haven’t used EnergyBits on too many runs yet, but I am really looking forward to carrying it on longer-runs and half-marathons to take with salt tablets as a source of energy. We tested it out today at the 5k and loved it. Kyle compared it to drinking coffee post run minus the jitters, I agree. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. If you would like to try ENERGYBits out you can use the promocode “blog” when you check out for a 10% discount!

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4) Truckeroo
Once a month DC food trucks get together outside of National’s ball park for a food truck rally with bars, live music, yard games, and tons of great food trucks. My friends Christy and Kyle were over for the weekend so we rounded up the troops and went over for dinner. It may not have been the healthiest choice before a race day…but I knew we were taking this race easy and indulged a little! YOLO! Sorry…I said YOLO…moving on! My dinner included a Maine lobster roll, corn fritters, ice cream, and cider. Cheat day? Sure! But who could say no to this?

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5) MyOatmeal
Several SweatPink Ambassadors are big fans of MyOatmeal and I’ve read several reviews of their product. I was really happy to partner with them in reviewing their oatmeal. They have a really neat feature where you can customize your own blend from a whole host of ingredients and toppings in three different sizes. I made two “small” blends to try — and the small packages were actually larger than I expected and were packed full to the top! You really do get your moneys worth. The first mix was a “cookie” themed mix with oats, cookie dough, snickerdoodle, sugar cookies, flax seeds, pecans, and brown sugar cane. The second mix was “apple” themed and contained oats, apple pie, apple, gingerbread, apples, chia seeds, walnuts, and brown sugar cane. The flavors are AMAZING and I love all of the add-in’s like chia seeds and flax seeds that they offer. It’s hard to pick from so many amazing choices. For the past 2 weeks I have kept one bag of my “cookie” flavored mix at my office and one bag of my “apple” flavored mix at home. I use the at-home bag for snacks and breakfast and the at-work bag as a morning snack to eat after I bike into work. My little morning bike workout can leave my hungry during the day, but a small cup of oatmeal fills me up until lunch time and give me the energy I need to focus during the day. They’ve also extended a 15% discount on their oatmeal and PBLean blends for my readers. Simply enter “healthy15” when you check out! Oatmeal’s often listed as one of the “cheaper” health-foods and I 100% agree…MyOatmeal just proves that!


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6) BrokenMillenial
My best friend from high school has an amazing blog and writes for several outlets including Forbes and most recently TaxAct. Erin interviewed me for her most recent piece. Check it out!

7) 5k
Today we ran/walked the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure 5k in DC. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, as is my mother-in-law, and they are both some of the strongest and most wonderful women I know! My mom actually took part in some of their breast cancer research while she underwent surgery and treatment here in DC this past year. It was great to come full-circle and be there with her on this special day. My mom, sister, and her girl-friends walked the 5k and me and two of my friends ran the 5k. You know me, if there was a 5k run option…I had to run! It worked out well because we were able to get photos of my mom finishing and set up a cheering section for her. It was also really great to run with some of my best friends on this special day – these races always get me choked up. After the race, we headed to my mom’s house and we hosted a PartyLite party through Kyle along with a brunch for family and friends. Check out her site! And lastly, one of my cousins came into town this weekend to start his internship on Capitol Hill for the summer so he joined us as well. All-in-all a blast!! I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures from the race:

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Wear Your Helmets, Kids.

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Kids and adults alike should always wear their helmets when riding a bike. Tonight, I found that out that hard way…but am thankful I was taught to always wear my helmet and has one on when my head hit a brick road and bounced repeatedly (thanks dad!).

As many of my bloggers know, I love to bike! Ir’s excellent cross training and works muscles that complement running well. I bike to and from work (about 15-20 minutes each way) because I love stretching my legs and getting a good warm up in before my evening runs. In the mornings it helps wake me up and get the day going…and Lord knows I need help waking up! DC is a very biker friendly city and we have bike paths/lanes from our front door all the way to my office – and that’s a real blessing! It makes biking to work fun, safe, and enjoyable. I always wear my helemet, I have a reflective backpack, ankle band, and light on my bike. I also always obey signs and pedestrians.

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The bike lanes take me along some of our Nations treasures: the Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, the National Mall, embassies, and even the White House. I take the same path every single day and could probably do it blindfolded (but don’t challenge me). Those of you familiar with DC probably know Lafayette Park. A beautiful little park behind the White House blocked off to cars where bikes and pedestrians can crisscross in and out of NW DC. It’s essentially the back entrance to the White House and many of my commutes have been diverted by closures, the Obama’s leaving for school or dignitaries coming in for meetings. The usual. 

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Notice those pillars and the brick? Well today the car gates were blocked off with cones so I rode onto the sidewalk instead as instructed by the Secret Service police. This happens all the time so it was not unusual. I was cruising along on the brick sidewalk heading towards a couple of posts like the ones pictured above and that’s where my memory gets fuzzy.

I remember my a missing brick on the pathway and my tire hitting it which caused my handle bars to hit those lovely black posts above and send yours truly flying. I don’t remember actually hitting the post, or being airborne, or my clip-in shoes clicking out, but I sure remember hitting the ground. My left side of my body hit the ground the hardest – hip, wrist, elbow, and shoulder…and my head. Ahhhhh my head. I remember my heading bouncing on the ground multiple times and could see where from my helmet dents.

It hurt like hell. I remember laying on the ground and trying to figure out what the heck just happened as a Secret Service cop shook my arm trying to get my attention. He kept asking if I was alright and then radioed for a medic. Oh crap. Medic, Secret Service, White house…I just wanted to get home and go on my evening run! The guy was right behind him in seconds with a bag and helped me up. They took off my gloves and checked out my arms, wrist and fingers. Checked my neck and head and legs. They even made me call home to make sure someone was going to be there because they were worried about being alone if I had a concision. Needless to say  I was crying, embarrassed, and Maxwell was scared as hell!

Before they gave me the all-clear to go, the officer told me that he ran over because he could hear my head hit the ground. He said he could hear my helmet hitting the ground and that without my helmet that the crash would have been a lot worse. I believe him. Was I going too fast? Probably. Should I have been paying more attention to the road condition? Probably. But the bruises on my hip, leg, shin, shoulder, and elbow along with the throbbing pain in my head will be solid reminders this week for me to slow down, pay more attention, and always wear my helmet…and that I will probably be taking the metro this week!

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So wear your helmet blogger fiends! Those dents aren’t standard and your head will thank you later!

So here are a few of my bike tips for the night:

  • WEAR A HELMET
  • Ride with reflective gear
  • Use a bike light at night (one that flashes too)
  • Don’t ride with music
  • Check your brakes, tire pressure, and chains regularly
  • Never ride against traffic
  • Obey traffic signals
  • Use hand signals and let others bikers know when your are passing
  • AND WEAR YOUR HELMET!!!!

“Plan Your Runs And Track, Track, Track” – Dear Diary #8

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I’m a planner…I plan absolutely everything out in my life to a T. Is there something wrong with lacing up your shoes and running wherever the wind takes you? Absolutely not! Just be cautious because you might not be accurately calculating your weekly mileage. Planning your runs out ahead of time gives you an extra bit of accountability which can help that “planned” 3 mile run from turning into a 1 mile run. For the safety conscious runners out there – this can always be given to your loved ones at home so they know exactly where you’ll be running and when to expect you back.

Mapping out your runs is pretty easy and I wanted to share a few programs that can help you do it. You can download most of these programs onto your iPhone or Android phones and run with the map in hand if needed. Personally, I usually map my run our ahead of time on my laptop and run hands-free with just my Polar Heart Rate monitor and a bottle of water.

1) MapMyRun

Perhaps you’ve seen this pop up on Facebook as a friends status changes to “Suzzie Q has run 3 miles today with MapMyRun”…and then you feel really guilty and go run a swell? That’s MapMyRun! A free membership will let you map out runs, track your progress, and journal your nutrition and goals. After each run you get a summary of your average pace, total distance, the elevation climbed, and speed using Google Maps. After each run, your data is stored and uploaded onto http://www.MapMyRun.com and saved so that you can track your progress. Since it runs off of GPS technology, it can also pin point other routes MapMyRun users around you have been using. I’ve even turned the GPS signal on my iPhone and let this baby go…just following me as I run and developing new routes as I go (see, sometimes I do run without tracking!). One con: the interface can be hard to use…particularly the map…and all of the clicking that is involved. If you have the extra cash to spend, you might want to check our MapMyRun MVP. This is either $5.99/month OR $49.99 for a year with a free Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Strap included. The MVP version gives you heart rate analysis, power analysis, cadence analysis, custom splits, mobile coaching, and interval training along with everything MapMyRun provides for free. Now for a beginner runner with a Polar monitor…I don’t really need it. But if you are training for something larger like a marathon, you might want to invest.

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2) Google Maps 

 

This option is really taking you back to the basics and by basics I mean JUST a map. While not made for running, Google Maps serves the same purpose! Simply enter your starting and ending points and drag the map tool around to create a route you like. The upper left hand bar will let you know your distance and you can specify “walking” so that the map keeps you on sidewalks. It’s a little more basic than the other programs…but it works!

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3) Running Map 

 

Much like Google Maps, this is bare bones basics. Add your start pin and click along your desired route. The bar on the left hand side will calculate your distance, but that’s about it. Honestly, running maps is a lot easier to plan out with than Google Maps is.

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4) Run My Route

One of the coolest features on Run My Route is the ability to find other users routes and follow them. I also like the fact that you do not need to “sign up” in order to use their mapping tool. Run My Route works must like Google Maps where you simply click along to create your route.

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Now I am not saying one site is better than another…but I will tell you that I consistently use MapMyRun (and my husband uses GoogleMaps). General consensus: no site is perfect, all maps need a bit of patience, but mapping a run out ahead of time always helps. Like anything with running, you just need to figure out what works best for you.

 

“The Bug” – Dear Diary #4

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Have you ever get bitten by the race bug? I’ve been bit…and now I need to cure it! Yesterday I saw a friend write up a Facebook status about joining a triathlon and I thought to myself “I want in!!” 😀 but refrained. Most of the restraint came form the face that USTA memberships are basically required for triathlons and are so expensive (and mins expired).  I’ve got a big 10k coming up in October that is very important to me, but I need something in between. Perhaps an August race? Perhaps a September race? I need something!

It’s been over a month since my last race. I ran a great 5k late-may (finished between 25-30 minutes) and a horrible 5k on Cinco de Mayo (it took me over 45 minutes to finish…I stopped counting). It was my first race back post-ankle fracture and I rolled my ankle over a speed bump. I cried my way to the finish line and my husband and mother-in-law helped me feel better. But that’s the past!

I like to run…but I LOVE to race. People used to think I was crazy because I’d go run these races without any training and not die. However, I’ve never medaled in a distance race – I did all the time in track for sprinting – but I have yet to medal in any of the local 5k’s I enter. Usually the Boston-Marathon-Jacket-Wearing-Ladies and the Iron-Man-Tattoo-Clad-Women happen to be in my age group and BOOM there goes any shot. I’m in a competitive age group and I know I have a long ways to go before I medal. But I also know that I will get there! I want to win a medal one day that’s not a finisher’s medal (not that finishing is not a huge achievement).

I always find it funny how right before a race you’re a little nervous…you might even be re-thinking the race…you might be a little scared…you might want to quit BUT as soon as you finish you are ready to sign up for another!! Let’s so it again!!

So ladies and gents, I have been bit by the racing bug and need to find a fun 5k in the next month to run! Max and I really like a running group based out of Rehoboth, DE (where his parents live – I know we are veryyyy lucky because we get to visit them and they live by the water!). The group is called Seashore Striders and they have races every week or two, give great tech-shirts out to participants, use timing chips, and have medals for the top 3 men and women. The best was the huff-and-puff for your pumpkin pie 5k the morning of Thanksgiving. The weather was cool but the leaves were beautiful and Mr. Husband won the 3rd place men’s medal! I was pretty jealous…so I walked around in it while we grabbed our post-race Starbucks coffee and like to pretend that it was mine. I was pretty proud of him! He’s pretty fast! He’s my cheerleader, my biggest motivator, and my inspiration. While we were in college he drastically changed his diet and fell in love with running to loose over 100 lbs! Racing together is one of the coolest things — I love it! We don’t run together because…well…I cannot keep up with him. But we race together and start together and it is always nice to have some there cheering for you when you cross the finish line. It’s nice to have the same hobby because he understands that I would rather get a box of Nuun as a gift instead of flowers and he knows that a great adventure out can include getting new running shoes!

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That’s time with his shiny medal in the freezing cold 😀

Untitledand that’s us before the race 😀

So what will it be? The SPCA race for the puppies 5k? The Labor Day 5k? Who knows! I need one! Ready—-set—–go!

Keep finding your strong,

Laura